When it comes to editing the lines recorded and received from voice artists I used to tackle them with a combination of Audacity, Garageband (native Mac software), and Hindenburg Journalist to get the sound I wanted.  Audacity is free and extremely powerful.  I still turn to it for minor edits, and the savvy user can produce an entire show using just Audacity.  It might take some time and a bit of skill but I would hard pressed to think of something you couldn’t do with Audacity.  Garageband comes with its own set of tools that allow for manipulating and editing sound.  The same goes for Hindenburg Journalist.  The pro version comes with a handy little voice tool that allows you to perform a profile of one voice and apply that profile to another.  It’s especially helpful if you’re a podcaster and have achieved a sound you really like and want to make sure that you remain consistent over time.  Hindenburg’s voice profiler allows you to do that.  I have to admit, in my early days of podcasting (back when I produced a show called Philosophy Walk) I downloaded an episode of The Unexplained by the British broadcaster Howard Hughes (incredible show and talent if you’re into the paranormal) and used the voice profiler tool to apply his vocal EQ to mine.  While my delivery left a lot to be desired in those early days I did manage to achieve a pretty good sound.

That was then.  Now I rely on one tool to edit vocals.  RX6 Advanced from iZotope. The advanced version has a pretty steep price tag but iZotope often offers discounted specials throughout the year and it also sells a standard version of the software at less than 1/2 the price.  I’ll be honest, the standard version contains most of the tools you will need to edit audio, but the advanced will do everything.  Some of the features that set the advanced version apart are things like ‘ambience’ and ‘EQ’ matching (somewhat similar to the voice profiler I mentioned earlier).  Both version have ‘de-reverb’ and ‘de-plosive’ tools.  The de-plosive tool is worth calling out here.  I don’t care how good you are at a mic, or what your setup is, you will inevitably encounter the dreaded ‘plosive’ at one time or another.  It’s when a rush of air hits the mic, like when voicing a word with a ‘p’ in it (otherwise known as ‘popping p’s’).  Using Audacity you can reduce the effect to a bearable level with a few minutes work.  The problem comes when you have a set of lines littered with popped ‘p’s’.  That when RX6 lives up to its price tag.  With one click they disappear.  All of them.  You can focus on one at a time (preferable) or run it over an entire track.  Once you’ve gotten use to looking at waveforms in RX6 you will immediately see where potential problems exist without even having to listen for them.  With RX6 in your toolkit you can remove unwanted background noise, lips smacks, and run EQ fixes over files to get to the sound you’re looking for.  I use it constantly to match EQ when receiving lines from remote artists who are in the same scene but recorded separately.  Performances recorded separately, and under different conditions, will always sound different and iZotope helps to ease that pain.  Not to say that it’s magic.  It won’t fix an unfixable performance that may have been recorded over a laptops internal mic (avoid this at all costs!) but it’s still a game-changer.  Just as the folks who produce HBO’s Game of Thrones will tell you – they use RX6 Advanced too 🙂

 

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Image: Madyson from The Behemoth by Nils Nihils

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